Broadband Is Worth Waiting for ; as Competition to Offer 'Free' Internet Access Heats Up, Beware of Jumping in Too Soon and Signing a Long Contract
Kassam, Isabelle, The Independent on Sunday (London, England)
Right now, tens of thousands of crafty consumers across the UK are logged on to broadband without paying a penny for it.
But they haven't signed up to the heavily promoted "free" deals from Orange and TalkTalk that give consumers a high-speed connection to the internet. Instead, they're using stolen or borrowed WiFi - or wireless internet access. This is usually available by sitting in the garden or in a flat and using their neighbours' connections.
Be aware that you can face criminal charges for using another person's home wireless router without permission. However, many homeowners have been clubbing together to arrange their own WiFi "antenna", and don't mind sharing it with others in their block of flats or surrounding area.
Alternatively, free-access zones are often located in internet cafs or hotel receptions' you can find these using websites such as www.free-hotspot.com or www.freespot-uk.com. All you need is a laptop that's WiFi enabled and an internet service provider such as Wanadoo or AOL.
Most new laptops let you connect to WiFi as standard but older machines will need what's called a local area network (LAN) card' they usually cost about pounds 25 in electronics stores and are simply plugged into a port on your laptop.
But while many users pay absolutely nothing for their broadband, many more continue to shell out for "free" connection. More than half a million people have signed up recently for internet deals that come as part of a package' they are still billed every month for other services, usually phone calls.
One provider, TalkTalk (part of Carphone Warehouse), persuaded 340,000 customers to buy into its free deal in the first eight weeks after its launch in early April. But three months on, some customers maybe concerned that they have moved too fast, grabbing the first deal on offer.
While Orange is so far the only rival to offer a free broadband deal, BT has stepped into the arena with a different sort of offer, the Home Hub (see below). Sky and Vodafone are preparing to join the fray, most likely before the end of the summer. Sky is expected to entice consumers with free broadband when they take one of its premium TV packages.
"This is good news for consumers, as the competition is driving down prices," says Chris Williams of the price comparison and switching website uswitch .com "But customers should make sure that a deal is right for them rather than simply being swayed by headline prices."
Around 8.5 million people in the UK are connected to broadband now, so there is still plenty of room for more competition in the market.
Below, we scrutinise the pros and cons of the most popular broadband deals.
To get free broadband you have to signup to the Talk3 International Plan for 18 months, paying a one-off pounds 29.99 connection charge. You then pay pounds 11 landline rental and pounds 9.99 a month (a total of pounds 20.99 a month) for unlimited local and national landline calls and unlimited international calls to 28 countries. …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Broadband Is Worth Waiting for ; as Competition to Offer 'Free' Internet Access Heats Up, Beware of Jumping in Too Soon and Signing a Long Contract. Contributors: Kassam, Isabelle - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent on Sunday (London, England). Publication date: July 2, 2006. Page number: 24. © 2009 The Independent on Sunday. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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